18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: The Junior Officers' Reading Club: Killing Time and Fighting Wars (Kindle Edition)
A "good read", but due to many wild inaccuracies and his constant self-promotion I often doubted if the author had been in the Army at all. Far from being "the youngest Captain in the Army", for example as he claims, and "commended for his gallantry", he was not promoted early as often happens at 23 or 24 but was promoted at 25 when his promotion was routinely due, and rather tediously he spends five pages complaining about not being given a medal for gallantry.
His basic military knowledge often appears inexplicably limited about the most basic things, particularly for anyone in the infantry regardless of rank. Anyone who has spent any time in the Army in the last four decades, let alone in the Infantry, knows that a GPMG (General Purpose Machine Gun) is universally known as a "Jimpy", definitely not "the general", or that a CP is a Command Post, not a Check Point - minor points, but strange for a supposed combat experienced infanteer.
His constant criticism of other officers, sometimes with apparent justification, sometimes totally unfairly, is simply annoying. Early on he talks about Sgt McKay VC, "the 2 Para sergeant who kick-started the Battle of Mount Longdon ... on a night when everyone who knew their Falklands history remembered that elsewhere on the mountain his platoon commander hadn't exactly put in a textbook performance" - totally untrue: the platoon commander in question had been shot and badly wounded leading the fighting patrol Sgt McKay then took over (and, as anyone who was there or knows their Falklands history knows, it was 3 Para at Mount Longdon and 2 Para at Goose Green). He repeatedly criticizes older staff officers for being "war dodgers" and "fat and old" for no good reason - obviously older officers are not going to be on the front line and just as obviously their experience is needed in other places.
His two reports of the incident where a soldier (Gillespie) was injured near him by a 107mm rocket are markedly different: in the first he mans the GPMG "blazing away madly for minutes ... pouring rounds into the firing points forward sat up like a target on the roof" while later he recalls "I ran back up to him idly wondering in the adrenalin rush of it how I had landed 40m down the hill, deaf as a post but without a scratch, and he had been unlucky enough to cop the full blast ..."
The book is well written and gives a good view of the frustrations of a junior British officer in Afghanistan, but it is not only pretentious and self-serving but bordering on unpleasant in the author's arrogance and ignorance. After finishing it I was left feeling disappointed that others have clearly taken the author seriously and relieved that, after serving in Northern Ireland, the Falklands, Dhofar (Oman), the Gulf, Afghanistan, Cambodia and elsewhere that none of those I served with were quite so self-obsessed.